It's official the Phillies defeated the Nationals today 8-3.
Why is that important? Well, if you don't know, then you haven't followed the Mariners the last month.
With the loss, the Nationals will finish 59-102 (.578) so even if the Mariners lose today they would finish 60-102 (.588). That means bye-bye to Strasburg for the M's hello to the second pick in the draft.
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Now, we were talking about the rare possibility of the Nationals not taking Strasburg with the first pick next year because of financial reasons. It seems to be pretty much a given that Strasburg will be represented by Satan's brother, Scott Boras, next season. And that means, whoever takes Strasburg will be paying big money, like record-setting dollars. Like $15 to $20 million dollars which would more than double the $6.15 million bonus that shortstop Tim Beckham - the top pick in this past draft - got from the Rays.
There is also the fact that the Nats failed to sign their top pick, Aaron Crow, this season. Crow, a starter from the University of Missouri, wanted a signing bonus of $9 million, which was far higher than the MLB recommendation of $2.15 million for the ninth draft slot. Crow also wanted a guaranteed major league contract.
Crow wasn't represented by Boras, he was represented by Alan and Randy Hendricks, who are shrewd agents, but nothing along the lines of Boras.
Could the Nationals back away from taking Strasburg? It seems unlikely. Larry Stone made a good point that as bad as things are in the Washington with the NAts, the failure to take the obvious sure-fire pick would send an awful message to a waning fan base. The Nats almost have to take Strasburg, or have the approval rating of the organization drop from bad to inept.
But ... because Crow did not sign the Nationals will get a "9B" pick in 2009 draft to go with the top pick, meaning they will get a compensatory pick that will be slotted in between the ninth and 10th picks of the 2009 draft. So having basically two top 10 picks would be a pretty large chunk of money to be doled out.
Still, I just don't think there is any way they don't take Strasburg. It's one thing to waiver on a pitcher if there are question marks about him, but there seem to be few with this kid. Not to mention, he realistically could be a member of the pitching starved Nationals by July. In the past, the Nationals had little trouble signing their top picks like Ryan Zimmerman (2005), Chris Marrero (2006)and Ross Detwiler (2007).
So where does that leave the Mariners, who have the second pick. There's obviously some drop off between Strasburg and the rest of the class.
Here's Baseball America's top 10 college and high school prospects for next year's draft.
1. Stephen Strasburg rhp Jr. San Diego State
2. Alex White, rhp Jr. North Carolina
3. Grant Green, ss Jr. Southern California
4. Dustin Ackley, 1b/of Jr. North Carolina
5. Mike Minor, lhp Jr. Vanderbilt
6. Kendal Volz, rhp Jr. Baylor
7. Kyle Gibson, rhp Jr. Missouri
8. Andrew Oliver, lhp Jr. Oklahoma State
9. Kentrail Davis, of So. Tennessee
10. Blake Smith, of/rhp Jr. California
1. Tyler Matzek, lhp Capistrano Valley HS, Mission Viejo, Calif.
2. Donovan Tate, cf Cartersville (Ga.) HS
3. Matt Purke, lhp Klein HS, Spring, Texas
4. Jacob Turner, rhp Westminster Christian Academy, St. Charles, Mo.
5. Mychal Givens, rhp/ss Plant HS, Tampa
6. Zack Wheeler, rhp East Paulding HS, Dallas, Ga.
7. Ian Krol, lhp Nequa Valley HS, Naperville, Ill.
8. Luke Bailey, c Troup HS, Cartersville, Ga.
9. Brian Goodwin, cf Rocky Mount (N.C.) HS
10. LeVon Washington, cf/2b Buchholz HS, Gainesville, Fla.